Kenya tea exporters seek to double sales to Russia

According to Agriculture and Food Authority, Kenya, the world’s biggest black tea exporter, plans to double annual shipments to Russia to 44 million kilograms within three years.

Russia bought more than 152 million kilograms of tea last year with Kenya providing 18million kilograms of that, almost a fifth lower than 2015 sales. About 1 million kilograms of the exports was orthodox tea.

“We are putting in place strategies for all our main markets. Russia has been one of our major export markets and one of the world’s largest importers of tea, but the values have been going down in the past few years,”said Samuel Ogola, the interim head of Kenya’s tea directorate.

Orthodox, which is popular in Russia, Iran and Western Europe, is a specialty product made from black tea that’s processed by traditional methods of withering, rolling and oxidization, while regular black tea is manufactured through machines that crush, tear and curl the leaves.

Kenya produced a record 473 million kilograms in 2016. The higher output has forced it to find ways of increasing its share of the global market, Ogola said in an interview in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “We are in the process of creating strategies to grow our markets in Iran, Sudan, China and Japan.”

Only Sri Lanka and India surpass Kenyan tea exports to Russia, according to Natalya Zhivaya, a public relations officer at CROS, a Russian consulting company hired by Kenyan tea authorities to formulate a three-year market plan.

“Kenya produces good quality and has all the characteristics that the Russian market wants,” Zhivaya said in an interview in Nairobi.

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